Hiking to Peguche Waterfall

Welcome to the first Wellness Weekend link-up in 2020! I hope the first eighteen days of January have gone well for everyone and you’ve got some time to warm up before tackling your New Year’s plans with gusto. I’ve posted the full list of Wellness Weekend link-up dates and optional prompts here for future reference.

Why Warm Up?

A warm-up is helpful at the beginning of a fitness session to get our mind and body ready for subsequent and more intense activities. In my previous post, I shared that one of my ten favourite experiences in Ecuador is hiking. The first hike that my sister and I did is an easy hike to Peguche waterfall near Otavalo. It’s our warm-up hike to prepare us for more strenuous hikes later on.

About Peguche Waterfall

Peguche waterfall is 5 minutes northwest of the city of Otavalo which is located 110 km north of Quito and 2530 meters above sea level. Peguche waterfall is a sacred place in the culture of the indigenous peoples of Otavalo.

I categorize this hike as Easy because the trail is flat and well-defined. The length of the trail is just right (about 3 km return). There are a few points of interest along the way, and the highlight is a beautiful waterfall. Otavalo’s spring-like climate in December also makes it ideal for hiking. So we headed to Peguche trail.

Welcome sign to Peguche waterfall

Once we entered the Peguche trail, we were surrounded by beautiful tall trees and lush green shrubs. The winding path was easy to walk on. Mosses and lichen covered the low rock walls that protect the trees from foot traffic.

Trail to Peguche waterfall

The trail is about 1.5 km long. It took us about twenty minutes to reach the bridge that faces the waterfall. Peguche waterfall is a beautiful waterfall of 18 m in height, formed by the river of the same name, which starts at Lake San Pablo. The lush green vegetation embraces the waterfall. The clouds moved in and out to give us some sun.

Peguche Waterfall

We stood on the bridge for a while to enjoy the views before walking up the paths along both sides of the falls to reach the Lookout platform (Mirador), and onto some big rocks to get closer to the waterfall. We could feel great volumes of mist from the powerful waterfall.

Peguche waterfall

The local people name Peguche waterfall Forest Protector (Bosque Protector), because all of the trees get their water from the waterfall’s mists and the downstream gushing water. On the night of the summer solstice, the waterfall becomes the privileged place for community ritual bath, as a first step to celebrate the Festival of the Sun (Inti Raymi).

Peguche waterfall downstream

As we walked along the trail, I could hear bird songs and spotted a number of plants with pretty flowers. There were also lots of ferns and orchid plants that cohabit with tall eucalyptus trees. The sun came out and everything glowed.

Peguche trail

Outside the Peguche trail, to the left is the Sun Dial (Inti Watana) site, also known as the Solar Calendar. The site includes a round adobe wall with a sun dial in the centre. People from different communities come together to offer their crops to the Sun god (Inti), and celebrate the summer solstice here.

It was a nice short hike on a beautiful morning in Peguche. Altogether we did about 3 km return trip (about 2 miles). We learned something new about Peguche waterfall. The warm-up hike and nature gave me new energy. I looked forward to more hiking in Ecuador. Happy trails!

Trail from Peguche waterfall

Click here to join in the Wellness Weekend 2020 link-up and share your wellness-related post. As your host, I will read your blog and leave a comment 🙂

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Reviewing Health Goals: What Went Well?

At the beginning of 2019, my overall plan for the year is to create nice memories with my family and friends, to stay healthy, and to enjoy life. I have nineteen specific goals and group them in three categories: Family & Friends (five goals), Health (six goals), and Leisure (eight goals).

We’re now in the second week of December. I’m gently wrapping up the year 2019, starting with a review of my six Health goals in this post. They were on my Blogger blog so I’m copying them over in a table format and adding my results next to each goal.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Health Goals in 2019

GoalResults
Meditate 15 minutes dailyDone daily. Meditation clears my mind and sets a positive tone for the day.
Find humour to smile or laugh dailyDone daily. 2019 has been an amazing year for me and I find it easy to smile or laugh.
Walk 6x/ week, 45 minutes each timeDone and some more. I continue to live a car-free lifestyle. I’ve been walking longer distance in the Fall.
Strength workouts 3x/ week, 1 hour each timeDone consistently. I feel fit and healthy. The exercises improve my balance, focus, stamina, and strength.
Yoga 2x/ week, 1 hour each timeDone consistently. My body is flexible and I can do a range of motions without pain or difficulty. The deep breathing practice helps me sleep well.
Swim 1x/ week, 1 hourDone consistently. Swimming relaxes me and builds endurance at the same time.

What Went Well?

Photo by Ryan Baker on Pexels.com

I’m committed to maintaining good health and as such I’ve designed my health routine to suit me. Here’s what went well:

1) Enjoyment: I choose activities that I like and that I can do year-round. This increases the chance that I look forward to doing them, and I can do them regularly without any significant gap.

2) Variety: I have six activities and goals for each. I do a different set of activities each day and make changes to keep the routine fresh and engaging. My yoga instructor also delivers a unique class every time.

3) A mix of structure and flexibility: The structured activities are my yoga class which is on Tuesday and Thursday, from 9 to 10 AM. The remaining activities are on my own time although I usually complete them in the morning.

4) A mix of group and solo activities: In my yoga class, we have anywhere from 12 to 22 participants in each class. My other health activities are solo although I do work out in the gym with one of my friends every few weeks and I do see other people in the gym and at the pool.

5) Self-care time: Some of my walks are with my family or friends. The rest of my health activities are by myself (gym, meditate, swim, walk) or in a class (yoga) so I have that time just for me.

Where does all this lead?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Life Quality: I’d say my life quality is excellent this year. I’ve enjoyed several health activities, a variety of leisure pursuits, and frequent travels. I’ve made new friends from my yoga class, as well as through blogging, and travelling.

Gratitude: I’m very thankful for having my good health. It enables me to enjoy life with my family and friends. I can be of help to them when needed.

My thank-you to everyone who has participated and/ or supported the Wellness Wednesday link-up with your comments. I also want to thank Leslie for joining me on this journey and for setting up the monthly link-up codes.

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

What went well health-wise in 2019 for you? Would you do anything differently in the New Year? I’d love to hear your comments.

Click here to join in the last Wellness Wednesday link-up of 2019. I look forward to continuing our blogging connections with you all.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Hiking the Attikamek Trail

I’m co-hosting the Wellness Wednesday November 13th link up with my blogger friend, Leslie. The optional prompt is Healthy Holidays so in this post I’m sharing a hike that my family and I did during our mini-vacation in Sault Ste. Marie, a city on the shore of the St Marys River connecting Lake Huron and Lake Superior.

Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (green marker)

About the Attikamek Trail

The Attikamek Trail is located at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada, easily reached from the city centre. It’s 2.2 km long (1.4 miles) on flat terrain. Attikamek means white fish.

Hiking the Attikamek Trail

We started from the Sault Ste. Marie Canal gate, crossed the lock, and followed an accessible pathway onto south St. Marys Island. The weather was overcast, cool, and calm without any wind so it felt quite comfortable for an outdoor hike.

Looking towards the International Bridge
The Attikamek trail is on the left in this photo.

We soon entered the packed gravel trail path, surrounded by autumn foliage, from green to various shades of yellow and red. Part of the trail let us walk under the International Bridge, built in 1962.

Attikamek Trail

The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge spans the St. Marys River between the United States and Canada, connecting the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie

We stopped by St. Marys Rapids to listen to the sounds of the water and watched a few dedicated fishermen patiently waiting for a good catch. The packed gravel and leaf-laden trail then turned into a wide wooden boardwalk with lovely views on both sides.

Boardwalk

A flock of small birds happily greeted us at the boardwalk. They had light yellow and some black feathers. I think they’re warblers. Can you see a bird blended in with the berries in the centre of the photo below?

We enjoyed the calm reflection of autumn foliage, woods, and wetlands in the river. A family of ducks lazily swam along while other ducks were just watching us.

Autumn reflections
Ducks

Further along the trail, we found a few beaver dams but no beaver in sight since they usually work at night. What looks like a heap of branches is protection against their predators and gives them access to food during winter.

A beaver dam
A beaver dam

At the end of the Attikamek trail we reached the Sault Ste. Marie lock and walked around to examine how it works. The lock operation to raise or lower vessels that go from Lake Huron to Lake Superior is fascinating and deserves a separate blog post.

Looking towards the Locks
The lock is behind the white bridge at the end of the photo.

It was a nice short hike on a calm afternoon in Sault Ste. Marie. Altogether we walked about 3 km (1.8 miles) and experienced the wonder of quiet woods and wetlands. Happy trails!

Click here to join the Wellness Wednesday link-up and share your health goal updates or healthy holiday ideas.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Happy 3 Years of Blogging

I’m co-hosting the Wellness Wednesday October 9th link up with my blogger friend, Leslie. The optional prompt is Gratitude. October 10th marks my 3rd full year of blogging so this is a 2-in-1 post to say happy three years of blogging to me and to express my blogging-related gratitude in no particular order 🙂

I’m Grateful For…

  • Free templates on Blogger and WordPress: I can try something new without spending money up front. Without the free templates, I probably wouldn’t start blogging in the first place. I started on Blogger in October 2016 and moved to WordPress in June 2019.
  • Easy-to-use blogging tools: I find both Blogger and WordPress easy to use. The move from Blogger to WordPress is simple. I’ve been using the WordPress block editor (Gutenberg) for all my blog posts from June to date without any issue so far.
  • The digital nature of a blog: It allows me to write and keep a digital record which is a lot lighter in weight than a paper journal. Less paper used, less physical storage needed, less to dust. Win, win, win.
  • The first comment that I received on my blog: It came from a blogger in February 2017, four months after I started blogging. We’re both still blogging and linking up. Do you remember the first comment you received on your blog?
This group of totem poles made me think of the blogging community: unique and together
  • Friends who blog: I started reaching out to meet up with bloggers in my third year of blogging. It was a pleasure to meet Ann, Joanne, Donna, Sue, and Jude in real life. Have you met a blogger and started a new friendship?
  • The link-up hosts: Especially the hosts who reply to comments on their blog and visit linked-up participant’s blog to comment. I appreciate your time and efforts. You’re building a blogging community and I think that’s cool.
  • The readers who leave comments on my blog: I appreciate your time and thoughtful comments. If you have a blog, I try to visit it and leave a comment, too. Your kind comments brighten my day and enrich the blog conversation.
  • The time to blog for leisure: Every blogger knows that blogging is time-consuming and time is one of our most precious resources. I’m grateful to have a small chunk of time to blog for leisure and at my own pace.
  • The freedom to blog: How wonderful is it that I’m free to type and publish my thoughts? My blog is a canvas where I create, edit, save, share, and connect with people across the miles. I’m enjoying the journey!

I hope you have a wonderful week. Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my Canadian friends and readers!

Click here to join in on the Wellness Wednesday link-up.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Sleeping at Queen’s University

I’m co-hosting the Wellness Wednesday link up on September 11 with my blogger friend, Leslie. The optional prompt is Sleep Hygiene. So I thought I’d share my recent experience sleeping at Queen’s University Residence and the ten steps that I follow to sleep well. [This is not a sponsored post and there is no affiliate link].

Why University Residence?

It’s an affordable accommodation for travellers. The room charges contribute to the university’s revenue which hopefully will be used to improve student’s life on campus. The residence buildings are put to good use when students are on extended breaks such as the summer months. The seasonal jobs, although not all filled by students, are usually needed by students to gain work experience and income.

Queen’s University is located in Kingston, about 2.5 hours by train, east of Toronto. The university has several residence buildings that are available for public bookings from May to end of August. We booked a premium unit at David C. Smith House. Let me give you a quick tour with a few photos.

The David C. Smith Building

David C. Smith House is one of the 17 residence buildings at Queen’s. It opened in September 2015, and is named in honour of former Principal Dr. David C. Smith, who served as Queen’s Principal from 1984 to 1994.

David C. Smith House at Queen's Univeristy

The Reception Area

The reception area is on the main floor. Check-in and check-out activities are managed like in a hotel. The lounge is spacious with floor to ceiling windows, comfortable seating, and televisions for viewing. Complimentary hot tea or coffee available from 6 am to 11 am. Still and sparkling water fountains, vending machines, a small snack bar, two computers, and printers are available 24/7.

The Lounge

The Laundromat

The laundry room offers washers, dryers, ironing board, and iron. It even has a mounted television. Beyond the lounge area, for security purposes, guests must use their assigned cards to access the laundry room and elevator service to rooms on upper floors.

Laundry room

The Kitchen

Each floor has a full kitchen, equipped with a fridge, microwave, stove, oven, toaster, kettle, sinks, drawers, a couch, tables and chairs. It also has natural lighting and nice views of the lake and the campus.

The Guest Rooms

The Premium unit has two guest rooms that share a bathroom in the middle. Each guest room has a double bed, desk, filing cabinet, chair, wardrobe, mirror, dresser, mini-fridge, TV, window, black-out curtains, adjustable thermostat, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The shared bathroom has a small shower stall, toilet, and sink. Linen, towels, toilet paper, and soap are provided. Housekeeping services are scheduled every other day between 9 am and 1 pm.

Bedroom with desk, chair, filing cabinet, mini-fridge, and wardrobe with mirror
Bedroom 1 in Premium unit
Bedroom
Bedroom 2 in Premium unit

We had an affordable and comfortable stay. The campus is right by the waterfront which has a nice park and a clean trail for cycling, walking, and running.

During my travels, I’ve stayed in various Canadian university residences and a few abroad. I’ve had very good experiences with all of them.

The Ten Steps To Sleep Well

I sleep well when I adhere to the following ten steps:

  1. Do adequate physical movements during the day.
  2. Have dinner without overeating.
  3. Stay away from food or drink that may upset my stomach.
  4. Try to have consistent sleeping and waking times.
  5. Park unresolved issue by writing them down for ‘next day’.
  6. Break from ‘screen time’ at least half an hour before bed.
  7. Do mental acknowledgment of what I’m grateful for.
  8. Relax my mind and body with deep abdominal breathing.
  9. Have clean and comfortable bed, pillow, and bedding.
  10. Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Non-smoking room is a must when I travel.
Sleep it off
Sleep it off…(art on two discarded mattresses). Hope this makes you smile.

I’d love to hear your comments. Would you consider staying in university rooms? What are your tips for sleeping well?

Click here to join in on the Wellness Wednesday fun. Our next link-up is on October 9 with the optional prompt Gratitude.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Heidelberg Castle with Friends

I mentioned in my In and Around Munich post that my cousin took me to see Neuschwanstein Castle. I was spoiled again when my friends who live near Stuttgart took me to Heidelberg to visit this charming German town and Heidelberg Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in Germany.

Heidelberg is located about 120 km north west of Stuttgart, right on the Neckar River. The town is known for Heidelberg University, Germany’s oldest university, founded in 1386, and the red sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle.

Heidelberg panorama by the Neckar River
Heidelberg panorama by the Neckar river: The Gothic Heiliggeistkirche church on the left, Marktplatz in the centre, and the Old Bridge on the right.

HEIDELBERG OLD TOWN

Upon arriving in Heidelberg, we strolled in the Old Town and admired the beautiful buildings. The Gothic Heiliggeistkirche church towers over the vibrant town centre Marktplatz. One can spend many days in this town to examine its architectural details. From the main square, we could see Heidelberg Castle standing on Königstuhl hill.

Heidelberg
Heidelberg Castle on Königstuhl hill in the background

HEIDELBERG CASTLE

To conserve our energy and time, we took the funicular from the ground level to Heidelberg Castle. Below are some of my photos during our exploration of the various buildings on the castle site. I organized them in chronological order with the earliest structure first.

The Ruprecht Building single-story, simple medieval structure was built under King Ruprecht I, who ruled between 1400 and 1410. It is the oldest surviving residential palace within Heidelberg Castle.

Rupretch Buidling at Heidelberg Castle
Surviving tower by the Ruprecht Building at Heidelberg Castle

The Powder Tower (aka the ‘Exploded’ Tower) was built under Prince Ludwig V, who ruled between 1508 and 1544. It once functioned as a gun turret. “Kraut,” or powder, specifically gunpowder, was stored in the basement. French mines destroyed the roughly 7-meter-thick wall during the war between 1688 and 1697.

The Powder Tower at Heidelberg Castle
The Powder Tower at Heidelberg Castle

The Hall of Glass was named for its magnificent second-story hall, once adorned with Venetian mirror glass. It was constructed by Prince Friedrich II, who ruled between 1544 and 1556. Its Italian arcades connect the two most beautiful buildings within Heidelberg Castle: the Friedrich Building (left) and the Ottheinrich Building (right).

The House of Glass at Heidelberg Castle
The Hall of Glass with its Italian arcades in the centre

The Ottheinrich Building was erected during the rule of Ottheinrich (1556–1559). The elaborate decorative figures on the stately facade were created by sculptor Alexander Colin. The roof was damaged by fire from French troops in 1693 and was finally destroyed by a lightning strike in 1764.

Ottheinrich Building at Heidelberg Castle
The Ottheinrich Building at Heidelberg Castle

The German Apothecary Museum has resided in the basement of the Ottheinrich Building since 1958. The castle admission ticket includes a visit to this interesting exhibition on the history of pharmaceutics.

Apothecary Museum at Heidelberg Castle
German Apothecary Museum in Heidelberg Castle

The Friedrich Building and its lavishly decorated facade was built during the rule of Friedrich IV (1583–1610) by his architect, Johannes Schoch, between 1601 and 1607. The electoral family lived on the two top floors. The attic floor was reserved for the servants.

Friedrich Building at Heidelberg Castle
The Friedrich Building at Heidelberg Castle
Statues at Heidelberg Castle
Statues at Heidelberg Castle

The Bell Tower seen next to Scheffel Terrace was originally constructed as a gun turret in the early 15th century. Over the centuries it was reinforced, built up, and finally converted into a bell tower and lookout tower.

The Bell Tower at Heidelberg Castle
The Bell Tower seen from Scheffel Terrace

The English Building was built between 1612 and 1614 during the rule of Friedrich V (1613–1619) for his English bride Elizabeth Stuart. The surviving window facade is on the left in the photo below.

English Building at Heidelberg Castle
The English Building at Heidelberg Castle
Facade details at Heidelberg Castle
Facade details at Heidelberg Castle

The Barrel Building was constructed in the 16th century. A giant barrel was installed in the building’s basement in 1591, holding 130,000 liters of wine. In 1664, it was replaced by an even larger barrel with 200,000 liters capacity. Nearly 100 years later, Prince Carl Theodor had the third and current Great Barrel constructed. 220,000 liters of wine were stored here.

After visiting the beautiful Heidelberg Castle, we strolled in the castle gardens, and took the stairs (some 300 steps) to get down to Heidelberg Old Town. Walking with my longtime friends made the descent from the summit seem shorter.

I’m hosting the Wellness Wednesday link up on August 14. The optional prompt is Friends with regards to how they affect our well-being. Since I’ve written my Health updates in my July Wrap-Up post, I’m sharing my wonderful outing in Heidelberg with my friends for Wellness Wednesday. Please click here to join in on the fun.

I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

The Tall Ships

I’ve been co-hosting a monthly Wellness link up on the second Wednesday of each month in 2019 with my blogger friend, Leslie, at Once Upon A Time & Happily Ever After blog. The optional prompt for July is Family health.

Since I’ve provided my Health updates in my June Wrap-Up post here, in this post, I’m sharing a walk that my family and I did together.

On Canada Day weekend, we started our celebrations with a home-made pancake breakfast, served with Canadian maple syrup and Ontario-grown fresh strawberries. It was yummy and gave us plenty of energy.

We went for a 5 km walk along the waterfront to see the tall ships that were participating in the Tall Ships Challenge Race Series 2019 and at the Redpath Waterfront festival. Below is the explanation of the series from the Tall Ships Ontario web site:

THE TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE

The TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes Series
is a race series organized by Tall Ships America that travels through the Great Lakes stopping in US and Canadian cities throughout the summer of 2019. The race involves (on average) 15 international tall ships that race from port to port and are timed. The launch port for the 2019 Great Lakes Series will be in Toronto at the Redpath Waterfront Festival on Canada Day weekend. The Canadian portion of the tour is referred to as TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® ONTARIO
.”

THE TALL SHIPS

The first tall ship we saw was Empire Sandy. This tall ship was originally built as a deep-sea tug in the UK in 1943. In the late 1970’s, she was transformed from a tug to the magnificent tall ship she is today. She was launched in 1982 right on Toronto’s waterfront, and is now Canada’s largest passenger sailing ship.

Walking along the waterfront, we saw Kajama cruising in the Toronto Harbour. This tall ship was built in Germany in 1930 as a cargo vessel. She sailed in the North Atlantic for three decades through western Europe, Norway, and Russia before being sold to a man in Denmark, who gave her the name “Kajama”. She’s been a permanent attraction on Toronto’s waterfront since 1999.

In the next stretch of our walk, six more magnificent tall ships greeted us. Their names and brief descriptions were provided where they docked. Each tall ship is a beauty with very interesting history. Feel free to read more about them and where they are going next on the Tall Ships Challenge web site. I grouped their images into a photo collage below.

  • Playfair (top row, left): The first Canadian tall ship to be christened by a reigning monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, in 1973.
  • Fair Jeanne (top row, centre) A tall ship designed and built by a Canadian naval war hero and was named after his wife.
  • US Brig Niagara (top row, right) A third reconstruction of an American flagship that fought in the War of 1812’s Battle of Lake Erie.
  • Pride of Baltimore II (bottom row, right): An American tall ship that has logged over 250,000 nautical miles and has docked in more than 40 countries.
  • Blue Nose II (bottom row, centre): A Canadian tall ship whose image was adorned on the Canadian dime and remains on the coin today.
  • St. Lawrence II (bottom row, left): Another Canadian tall ship who is home to one of the oldest sailing-training programs in North America.
Clockwise Left to Right: Playfair, Fair Jeanne, US Brig Niagara, Pride of Baltimore II, Blue Nose II, and St. Lawrence II.

The tall ships were open for deck tours. Most of them required tickets to board and tour, except the HMCS Oriole (HMCS stands for Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship). It was pretty cool to tour the Navy’s longest serving commissioned ship.

OVERALL RATING

All in all, it was a fun family 5K walk on a nice summer day. We saw several beautiful tall ships, watched the crew members’ activities on their vessels, toured the HMCS Oriole, and learned about the tall ships’ interesting history. The combination of family, festivity, fitness, and fun made our Canada Day weekend a fabulous one. I gave this walk a five out of five!

ABOUT THE WELLNESS WEDNESDAY LINK-UP

Wellness Wednesday image

Please feel free to join in today or on any of the remaining Wellness Wednesday link-up dates in 2019. Optional prompts are as follows:

  • August 14 – Friends
  • September 11 – Sleep hygiene
  • October 9 – Gratitude
  • November 13 – Healthy holidays
  • December 11 – Goals year-end review

Have you been to a Tall Ships event before? Any interest in tall ships and their history? What family wellness activity are you planning to do next? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.